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But when it came to partnership and support issues, VARs were more stingy with their ratings. The average satisfaction score partners gave for product quality and reliability was 74 out of a possible 100. That was the highest average criterion score. But, among the 17 remaining criteria, which measure partner satisfaction against qualities important to the channel, 10 of the average satisfaction scores were 65 or lower. These scores are well below the minimum of 75 that VARBusiness and its research partners consider the floor for "satisfaction."
The annual study, now in its 22nd year, asks thousands of registered partners to rate their satisfaction with vendors in one or more of 15 different technology categories to reveal how these vendors are performing in three main areas: product innovation, support and partnership. Some vendors are represented in multiple technology categories, and there were 76 vendor/technology combinations to evaluate. In all, 3,844 people completed 5,638 report cards. For more information about the methodology, go to varbusiness.com/extra.
Support And Partnership Score Low
In the area of product innovation, the average vendor scores in four of the six criteria were 70 or more points on our 100-point scale: quality and reliability (74), richness of product features/functionality (71), compatibility/ease of integration (71) and technical innovation (70).
The other two product innovation criteria are marketability, which averaged a 67, and services opportunity, which averaged only 64.
These criteria are all rolled up into an overall product innovation score by weighing them with the importance that partners assigned to them. Across all vendors and technology categories, the average score for production innovation was 69. For more on how individual vendors did, see "Innovation Above All," page 30, and the ARC score chart at www.varbusiness.com/extra.
On an encouraging note, in most of the criteria with low average scores this year, the scores were higher than in the past few years. (Scores from before 2005 were not compared.) Vendors seem to be doing better, for instance, in market support. Two years ago, the average score was 59, last year it was 60, and this year it rose to 63. It's still not a great score, but at least it's headed in the right direction.
Communication with partners rose from a 61 in 2005 to a 63 last year and 64 this year. Each of the following other criteria rose two points over the past two years: sales support (65, previously called "presales support"), maintenance support (66, previously "postsales support"), revenue and profit potential (65) and ease of doing business (66).
However, quality of field management has apparently decreased overall. In 2005, ARC participants gave an average of 67 points to vendors in what was then called "quality of technical support." The score rose to 68 last year. This year, it fell 5 points, to a mere 63.